The Red Sox are four-deep on the manager depth chart against the Rays

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On Sunday, the benches cleared in a game between the Red Sox and Rays in Florida. The Red Sox weren’t happy that Yunel Escobar stole third base with a five-run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning. The bad blood continued on Friday night’s game between the two teams, this time in Boston.

In the first inning, Rays starter David Price hit Red Sox DH David Ortiz, prompting home plate umpire Dan Bellino to issue warnings to both benches. This didn’t sit well with Red Sox manager John Farrell, so he came out to argue with Bellino. It’s understandable — the Rays got their chance to throw at someone, while the Red Sox would not be afforded such an opportunity. Farrell was ejected.

Bench coach Torey Lovullo took over for Farrell. Price hit Mike Carp with a pitch in the bottom of the fourth inning, prompting both dugouts to empty. Bellino concluded that Price did not intentionally hit Carp, so he did not eject Price. Lovullo spoke his mind to Bellino before being ejected. Third base coach Brian Butterfield took Lovullo’s spot in the dugout as manager of the Red Sox.

In the top of the sixth, Sox starter Brandon Workman threw behind Rays third baseman Evan Longoria. Bellino ejected Workman for intentionally throwing at a batter, and Butterfield was automatically ejected as well. Hitting coach Greg Colbrunn became the latest acting manager, and Burke Badenhop replaced Workman on the mound.

For those keeping score at home, here are the managers the Red Sox have gone through tonight:

  • John Farrell
  • Torey Luvullo
  • Brian Butterfield
  • Greg Colbrunn

If Colbrunn is ejected, the Red Sox may have to bring back Bobby Valentine. (I shamelessly stole this joke from D.J. Short on Twitter.)

Also of note: the Rays have hit two Red Sox with pitches, and no one has been ejected. The Red Sox have hit no one (but intentionally threw at Longoria, of course) and have had four members ejected. To be fair, however, they did start the whole shebang by getting upset over a very questionable reading of baseball’s unwritten rules.

Matt Carpenter hit a standup bunt double

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The wave of defensive shifts we’ve seen over the past few years has led to a lot of armchair hitting coaches demanding that players bunt to beat it. This is easier said than done, however.

The shift happens because certain hitters tend to pull the ball. Certain hitters tend to pull the ball because pulling the ball is what happens when one gets a strong, quick swing on a pitch one identifies early and which one endeavors to send as far away from home plate as possible. Which is to say that pulling is a skill that is good to have and which is strongly selected for among hitters.

In light of that, “why not just bunt to beat the shift” takes are kind of lazy. Bunting is hard! And it is not a thing guys who get shifted a lot are good at. Most of the time asking a player to do a thing he is not well-equipped to do is a bad idea. Indeed, a hitter voluntarily going away from his strength is something the defense would much prefer.

Most of the time anyway.

Last night Matt Carpenter made those armchair hitting coaches happy by laying down a bunt to beat the shift. And he laid it down so well that he ended up with a standup double:

One batter later Carpenter scored on a Starlin Castro error.

The shift giveth and the shift taketh away.